It’s holiday season and, given that the British summer this year has utterly failed to turn up, more of us than ever will be fleeing these rain-soaked shores and seeking sun, sea, sand and somewhere else in foreign climes across the world.
However, seeing as many other countries rather cheekily now have their own language and most Brits can barely even speak English let alone attempt other tongues, it’s either time to get off your lazy, apathetic bottom and learn the lingo… or let your Android do the talking for you!
Naturally, we suspect the latter will be both the quicker and more attractive option and, as such, we’ve been testing out the very best translation apps for being abroad, helping ensure you can get your query across without having to resort to speaking more slowly and more loudly whilst gesticulating wildly, or, indeed, need to hide in the embassy while diplomats sort the whole unpleasant ‘international incident’ out for you.
Let’s start by breaking out the big guns – Google Translate is more useful than a Star Trek universal translator. Capable of shimmying between 64 different languages, you can type or speak your words, display translations in full screen mode, have translations spoken for you, and even engage in casual speech-to-speech chat in Conversation mode. Ever heard of Telugu? No, neither have I, but Google Translate speaks it fluently.
Not so much an aid to translation as it is witchcraft, Word Lens doesn’t speak out loud, nor does it move seamlessly between tens of tongues, but point your smartphone’s camera at any printed words in Italian, French or Spanish and see those words magically transform into English while remaining in situ on the sign, menu or bill, etc in question. See? Word witchcraft!
Harking back to Sci-Fi again, iTranslate sells itself as ‘a universal translator in your pocket’ which, while perhaps a tad over the top, given that it uses voice recognition combined with computer translation and audio output for words, phrases and whole sentences in over 50 languages, it’s probably the closest app to the Star Trek dream devised so far. Computer, hail Spain on a secure channel. Computer. Computer?
Requiring a link to the online world to works its wonders, English Translator will stand you in good stead if you find yourself up a conversational creek in Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Portugal or Sweden without a linguistic paddle. Translations are displayed on the screen or, if you’ve a speech engine installed, played audibly to save you from spluttering a horribly mangled mis-pronunciation.
Capable of rendering more than 50 countries’ worth of gobbledegook into unquestionable Queen’s English in the blink of an eye, Tranzilla Translator deftly handles words, phrases and sentences via a simple type-and-go interface, whilst Text-to-Speech is also available for German, Spanish, French and Italian, helping Euro Johnny hear your request for ‘a proper cup of tea’ with absolute aural accuracy. Merci buckets!